Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Local veterans take a historic trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington

I watched this on the news last night and it was a very touching event. These old soldiers did us all proud. The emotions among them were running very high. I hope we all remember them every day and not just on Memorial Day. I know I will.

12:04 AM CDT on Tuesday, May 26, 2009

By Len Cannon / 11 News

HOUSTON—A group of 111 men and women came together this month for a historic journey.


Local veterans take a historic trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington
May 25, 2009 View larger E-mail Clip More Video All of them are getting up there in years – the kind of seniors you might ignore on the street.

But on this trip, they were treated like royalty.

That’s because they’re all members of a unique fraternity whose membership is quickly shrinking.

They are veterans of World War II, most of them from Texas, who fought in the Pacific and Europe.

When 11 News caught up with them, they were heading to Washington to visit the World War II Memorial.

“It’s my last hurrah. This is probably the last (trip) I will ever make,” veteran Dalton Reddick said of the journey.

It was a 20-hour day for the vets. Some of them are in poor health, but they came anyway.

“I got all kinds of problems, but I said if they take me and I can make it, I’m gone! And here I am,” veteran Ruben Santillan said.

The trip was a gift from students and citizens in Montgomery County, who raised the money.

The World War II Memorial lies in the shadow of the Washington Monument. As the veterans approached it, people thanked them for their service.

Granite pillars at the Memorial represent each state. The Texas Vets, including 95-year-old Lovie Jonson, crowded around the Lone Star Pillar.

Johnson joined the Army in 1942 and served in Europe.

It was a very different time for African-Americans like Johnson, but wearing that uniform was an honor.

“Well, it means a whole lot. When I went overseas, I couldn’t vote. I fought over there and could not vote,” Johnson said.

Many of the veterans were mere teenagers when they entered the service. Their trip to Washington took them back across generations as they remembered a defining moment in their lives.

Some of the vets served in not one, but two wars.

Leonard Troup was a Navy fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

He was shot down in Korea and held captive for two years.

“It has quite a bit of emotion to it, because it’s been 50-some years and it comes back, the gray area becomes black again once you walk around and look at this and what it represents,” Troup said.

Another Houston vet, Private Bill White, joined the Army when he was 19.

He was in France during World War II. He said he rarely talks about his experience, but he shared with his thoughts on the Memorial with 11 News.

“I was extremely impressed with that, I thought it was very nice and thoughtful. And I am proud of the service I had,” White said.

White returned from the war and raised two sons, one of whom now serves as the Mayor of Houston.

An author once called these veterans part of the Greatest Generation.

There was great sacrifice – an estimated 450,000 Americans lost their lives in the war.

“Good memories and bad. We met a lot of good people. Not many of us left. We did the best we could,” Reddick said.

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